Laxatives: Friend Or Foe To Cholesterol?

can some laxatives affect your cholesterol

Some laxatives can help lower cholesterol, but only if taken correctly. Soluble fibres found in laxatives like Metamucil block the absorption of cholesterol into the blood by forming a gel-like substance that picks up cholesterol, preventing its absorption. However, laxatives do not stop the body from absorbing calories or gaining weight. They are meant to be used for treating constipation and should only be taken if recommended by a doctor.

Characteristics Values
Can laxatives affect cholesterol? Yes, some laxatives can help lower cholesterol.
How do laxatives affect cholesterol? Soluble fibres found in laxatives block the absorption of cholesterol into the blood.
What type of laxatives can affect cholesterol? Laxatives like Metamucil that contain soluble fibres.
Are there other health benefits to taking laxatives? Yes, they can help with constipation.
Are there any risks associated with taking laxatives? Taking laxatives for weight loss or when you don't need them can cause dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, constipation, diarrhea, damage to the intestines, and colon cancer.

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Laxatives can lower cholesterol by blocking its absorption into the blood

Soluble fibres are found in bulk-forming laxatives, which are a type of laxative that adds soluble fibre to the stool. These fibres break down easily in water and form a gel-like substance, helping the colon retain water and softening the stool, making it easier to pass. This type of laxative is often recommended by doctors for constipation relief, but it can also help lower cholesterol levels when taken correctly.

In addition to blocking cholesterol absorption, soluble fibres in laxatives like Metamucil have secondary effects that can also contribute to lowering cholesterol levels. For example, they can help you feel full for longer, leading to a reduction in fatty snack consumption. Furthermore, consuming soluble fibres can help increase the amount of bile excreted, which stimulates the production of bile acids from cholesterol in the liver, thereby reducing serum cholesterol concentration.

It is important to note that laxatives should not be relied upon solely for cholesterol management. They are intended to treat constipation and should only be used under the guidance of a medical professional. Additionally, while laxatives can help lower cholesterol, they do not prevent the absorption of calories or weight gain. This is because the food we eat goes through many processes before reaching the large intestine, where most nutrient absorption occurs.

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Laxatives can reduce LDL cholesterol by 5% to 30%

Laxatives: Not Just a Cure for Constipation

Laxatives are over-the-counter medications used to treat constipation. However, they can also be used to help lower cholesterol levels, specifically LDL cholesterol, also known as the "bad" cholesterol. LDL cholesterol contributes to artery-clogging atherosclerosis and is a harmful cholesterol-carrying particle.

How Laxatives Work to Lower Cholesterol

Laxatives that contain soluble fibres, such as Metamucil, block the absorption of cholesterol into the blood. The soluble fibres in laxatives break down easily in water and form a gel-like substance that moves through the stomach and intestines, picking up cholesterol along the way and preventing its absorption into the bloodstream. This process is similar to how phytosterols, the plant version of cholesterol, work to lower cholesterol levels.

According to a study presented to the Endocrine Society, onion extract lowered total cholesterol in diabetic rats. While human studies are still needed, this initial research suggests that certain laxatives may have a significant impact on cholesterol levels.

In addition, studies have shown that red yeast rice, which contains the same compound as the statin lovastatin, can reduce LDL cholesterol by 10% to 30%. This is a significant reduction and further highlights the potential of laxatives in cholesterol management.

Furthermore, consuming 25 grams of soy protein per day, equivalent to 10 ounces of tofu or 2.5 cups of soy milk, has been shown to lower LDL cholesterol by 5% to 6%.

While laxatives can be effective in lowering cholesterol, it is important to note that they should not be used as a primary treatment for high cholesterol. The use of laxatives for weight loss can be dangerous and may lead to dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, constipation, diarrhea, intestinal damage, and other serious health problems.

Additionally, laxatives should not be used in place of traditional cholesterol-lowering medications without medical supervision. It is always recommended to consult with a doctor before making any changes to your cholesterol-lowering strategy.

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Laxatives can cause dehydration

Laxatives are intended to provide relief from constipation. However, they can also be misused by individuals attempting to lose weight or treat eating disorders. This misuse can lead to dehydration, which occurs when laxatives deplete the body of water. The body then compensates for this dehydration by retaining water, resulting in bloating.

Dehydration caused by laxative abuse can have serious health consequences, including tremors, fainting, weakness, blurred vision, and organ damage. It can even lead to death in severe cases. To prevent dehydration, it is important to drink at least 2 litres of water per day when taking laxatives.

Laxatives can also cause electrolyte imbalances, particularly of potassium and sodium, which are essential for the proper functioning of nerves and muscles, including the heart. These imbalances can lead to tremors, vomiting, urinary tract infections, kidney failure, muscle spasms, and heart attacks.

Additionally, overuse of laxatives can lead to a dependency on them, as well as worsen constipation and contribute to irritable bowel syndrome and bowel tumours. The protective mucus lining the colon can also be worn away, leaving the colon susceptible to infections.

It is important to note that laxatives do not help with weight loss, as they work on the large intestine, which is where waste is produced. By this stage, the small intestine has already absorbed the calories from the food consumed. Therefore, the belief that laxatives can quickly move food through the body and clear out calories is incorrect.

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Laxatives can cause an electrolyte imbalance

The human body absorbs important electrolytes, such as sodium, potassium, and chloride, from the colon. These electrolytes play a vital role in maintaining fluid balance, transmitting nerve signals, and facilitating muscle contractions, including those in the heart and colon. However, the use of laxatives, especially for extended periods, can disrupt this process and lead to an electrolyte imbalance.

Laxatives work by drawing water into the bowel, softening the stool, and facilitating its passage out of the body. This interference with the body's natural absorption process can result in a loss of electrolytes, particularly sodium, potassium, and chloride. This loss can have several adverse effects on the body.

An electrolyte imbalance can cause a range of symptoms, including muscle weakness, fatigue, irregular heartbeat, and, in severe cases, heart problems and kidney failure. It can also lead to dehydration, as the body loses water and electrolytes, which are essential for maintaining fluid balance. Dehydration can further exacerbate the risk of heart and kidney issues.

Additionally, the overuse of laxatives can cause a loss of bowel muscle tone, leading to long-term constipation or even diarrhea. The muscles in the colon may become weak, making it difficult for the individual to pass stool without the aid of laxatives. This can create a cycle of dependence on laxatives, further increasing the risk of side effects.

To prevent electrolyte imbalance and other health complications, it is important to use laxatives only as directed by a healthcare professional and to explore alternative treatments for constipation, such as increasing fiber intake, exercising regularly, and staying hydrated.

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Laxatives can lead to constipation and diarrhea

Laxatives are a common medication used to treat constipation. They work by softening stools, increasing their bulk with additional fibre, and stimulating the digestive tract walls to speed up bowel movements. However, their use can also lead to constipation and diarrhoea.

Constipation can occur when laxatives are overused or misused. For example, some people attempt to lose weight by frequently using laxatives, believing that food and calories will be rushed through the body before they are absorbed. However, this is not the case, and laxative misuse can lead to health complications such as dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, and internal organ damage. Prolonged use of laxatives can also lead to laxative dependency, where larger and larger doses are required for the same effect.

Laxatives can also cause diarrhoea, especially when used in high doses or for extended periods. This is because laxatives speed up the passage of stools through the colon, which can result in loose or watery stools. Additionally, some types of laxatives, such as stimulant laxatives, may cause cramping and diarrhoea if used too often. It is important to follow the instructions and not take more than the recommended amount of laxatives to avoid these side effects.

To prevent constipation and diarrhoea, it is important to use laxatives sparingly and only when necessary. Improving diet and increasing physical activity can also help reduce constipation and the need for laxatives. A healthy diet rich in fibre and fluids, as well as regular exercise, can help prevent constipation in most people.

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Frequently asked questions

Soluble fibres found in laxatives like Metamucil block the absorption of cholesterol into the blood. Metamucil is a bulk-forming laxative that adds soluble fibre to your stool.

The powder semi-solidifies like jelly and, as it moves through your stomach and intestines, it picks up cholesterol, preventing its absorption.

Since Metamucil grabs cholesterol from food and not cholesterol produced by the body, it is only effective when taken with a big meal.

Taking laxatives for weight loss can lead to dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, constipation, diarrhoea, intestinal damage, and colon cancer.

Some safer alternatives include getting regular exercise, eating more fruits and vegetables, drinking fewer sugary drinks, swapping snacks for healthier versions, and eating fewer calories.

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